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Hawaii News

Exec’s cooperation leads to reduction of sentence

Honolulu wastewater executive Milton Choy’s sentence following his involvement in a bribery scheme was reduced because of his “extraordinary cooperation” with prosecutors, which has led to the arrests and convictions of state legislators and Maui County employees.

Choy, founder and owner of H2O Process Systems and Fluid Technologies, was sentenced to 41 months in prison Tuesday for bribing an agent of a federally funded program in a multimillion-dollar bribery scheme spanning about six years.

The maximum penalty for the bribery charge is up to 10 years in prison, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Sorenson said Choy was given a reduced sentence because of his “extraordinary cooperation” with prosecutors in a public corruption investigation that has led to the arrests and convictions of those who accepted bribes from Choy.

Sorenson recommended a 36-month sentence for Choy’s cooperation.

“Mr. Choy did quite a bit of work on behalf of the federal government in the context of our public corruption investigations,” Sorenson said. “The court … recognized all of Choy’s cooperation.”

Choy was also ordered to forfeit $4 million, which represents his profits over the course of the bribery scheme.

Four others have been sentenced as a result of the investigation.

Stewart Stant, former director of Maui County’s Department of Environmental Management, accepted bribes from Choy and in exchange steered dozens of sole-source contracts worth more than $19 million to Choy’s wastewater company..

During the six years the alleged scheme occurred, Choy made more than 40 deposits or transfers totaling $733,176 into Stant’s bank accounts. Choy also allegedly gave Stant cash, through deposits or in- person exchanges, totaling $644,570 during the same period, according to federal court documents.

Choy allegedly paid for $424,987 in travel expenses — including first-class airfare to and from Las Vegas and high-end hotel stays — for Stant, who traveled and gambled with Choy on multiple occasions over the course of their 30-year friendship.

Wilfredo Savella, who also worked with the county’s Department of Environmental Management, also accepted bribes as part of the bribery scheme.

Additionally, former state Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English and former state Rep. Ty Cullen accepted bribes from Choy in exchange for legislation that would benefit his company.

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